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Let’s play some kickball

May 22, 2011
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

The National Federation of State High School Associations - the national organization that supports state high school activities and sports associations - endorses 16 sports.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors 18 sports, including two which the NFHS does not - skiing and bowling.

When it comes to the MHSAA's neighboring associations, Wisconsin sponsors 14 sports, Indiana has 13, Iowa only has 11, Ohio has 16, Illinois sponsors as many as 19 sports and Minnesota tops out at 24 in the Midwest.

Among the sports sponsored, you'll find badminton in a number of neighboring states, floor hockey in Minnesota and wheelchair basketball in Illinois.

Illinois also lists bass fishing in its activities. There's rifle in Pennsylvania, New York and Georgia; judo in Hawaii; archery in Mississippi; fencing in New Jersey; and snowboarding in Vermont.

Not one of the 50 high school associations in the United States of America, however, sponsors one of the greatest sports a student has ever played from kindergarten to high school.

That sport would be kickball.

It's one of the first athletic activities we learn in school, whether it be passed down from child to child on the playground or brought out by a substitute teacher to occupy a group of physical education students for an hour.

The learning curve is simple. Roll the ball to the plate, kick the ball, hope no one catches the ball on the fly, run the bases and attempt not to be tagged or forced out as you make your way to home plate.

It takes little athletic ability to play and lacks the cruelty of dodgeball or line dancing. It's one of the few PE or recess sports that everyone can play.

Staying true to kickball's simplicity would not only keep costs low for implementation, but maintain the awesomeness of the game.

Every school in America has the only real piece of equipment necessary - a big rubber ball, preferably red. Existing baseball or softball fields could be used, or a football field, or any open field really. Play it indoors or outdoors, either location is fine. For the more unfinished venues, portable bases are sufficient. To determine home runs, throw up a temporary fence or a chalked line.

As for uniforms, some sneakers, gym shorts and a school T-shirt would be sufficient. In fact, homemade T-shirts would be the coolest.

Forget about separate boys' and girls' teams as well. Make the sport coed for gosh darn's sake. When it comes to the ability to kick, catch and throw a large rubber ball, there's little difference between men and women. We all look a little awkward doing it.

The key to making one of the greatest PE and recess activities the crown jewel of high school-sponsored sports is bucking the trend of the traditional prep events like basketball, football, track and hockey.

Forget about state-of-the-art facilities, uniforms and equipment. Get rid of the year-round training and the so-called optional offseason practices or camps. Keep score, list the standings and hold a postseason tournament, but let's scrap the individual honors like all-conference and all-tournament teams. The only honors should be team honors.

And parents, the only thing you can say at a kickball game is, "Good job!" and "Go team!" The only thing you can do is clap. Nothing else or we'll ban you as well, making the only people over 18 allowed within 100 yards of a kickball game the coaches and umpires.

Too often high school and youth sports are treated like the training grounds or minor leagues for college and professional sports. Let's have just one sport for the average boy or girl that isn't corrupted by the commercialism and pressure placed on high school athletics.

Let's have one sport that is true to school. Let's make that sport kickball.



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